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Kenya's 'arrested' development ends as traffic police ordered back to station

Peter Kimani
 Police roadblock outside Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [Mbugua Kibera, Standard]

Interior Security Cabinet Secretary Kindiki Kithure has declared that police checkpoints countrywide will be withdrawn.

I don’t know if the roadblocks delayed him a few weeks ago, when he couldn’t make his way to State House for a meeting with Prezzo Bill Ruto, and who demanded a written explanation for his tardiness.

But as most Kenyans will attest, any roadblock interrupts traffic flow, especially since police officers seem keen to target certain types of vehicles: matatus and trucks are a particular target.

To nab the motorists, the police slow down the traffic, or else no motorist ever stops when they have the option of driving on.

I hear the reason these types of vehicles are a favourite for police inspection is that many officers have daily targets in “fees” collection.

I’m not talking about their bosses’ collection - those have to be met before the officers can start on their own targets - but some are so desperate, they leave the water boiling and dash to the road to fetch unga from motorists.

And because the police are so powerful, they can choose to charge the driver for just about everything, including not keeping his truck clean.

Unsurprisingly, the “fees” collected at police checkpoints run into millions each day, as matatus are assigned a daily rate toguarantee them a safe passage in and out of town.

And by removing the permanent checkpoints, Minister Kithure isn’t just guaranteed that he will not be early for his next meeting, but that Kenya’s arrested development, might finally flourish.


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